At the invitation of DesignMarch and the Iceland University of the Arts, we visited Reykjavik from 13 to 18 March 2018. We were pleasantly surprised by a beautiful country, original people and a promising design scene!
DesignMarch is Iceland’s most important annual design festival. From fashion to furniture, architecture to food design, the festival showcases the best of the Icelandic design scene. Fresh, exciting, exotic and under the radar elsewhere, during DesignMarch you see what is going on and meet local designers – plus a handful of interesting international names. The scene is small and intimate, so we were able to get up close and personal with both locals and the design ‘superstars’. The event takes place in downtown Reykjavik – for four days, the most Northerly capital in the world turns into a venue for hundreds of openings, events, exhibitions and parties. An ideal way to discover the Icelandic design scene!
Vij5 lecture at the Icelandic University of the Arts
Our visit started by giving a lecture for students at the Iceland University of the Arts. During this lecture we introduced our audience to the story about Vij5 and especially taught them what it takes to translate an idea into a producible and sellable product: the next step. We also gave advice on how to make a product or idea more interesting for a label.
Next up was a day full of inspiration at Harpa in the form of DesignTalks. This signature opening event of DesignMarch, produced by the Iceland Design Centre, is a day of inspirational talks by leading international designers, architects and creative thought leaders on the impact and relevance of design in today’s society. This year the theme was ‘power and potential’. Lifting our gaze towards the future, shedding light on the power of design to tackle current topics and challenges and on how we can all move forward together. The event was very well organised, hosted by Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir (curator of DesignTalks) and Paul Bennett (Chief Creative Officer, IDEO) and officially opened by Iceland’s Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
Last but not least we were invited to participate in DesignMatch. This initiative pairs local designers and international design producers, retailers, curators, journalists and other design actors for a series of short meetings. It’s matchmaking for design professionals!
We had the honour to meet four different Icelandic designers/studio’s and had a nice chat about their work and portfolio’s. All meetings were arranged for us to conveniently take place over the course of one day in our temporary ‘private office’ at the Arion Banki.
Discovering the festival – our highlights
In between all the scheduled elements of the program, we had the time to discover all the exhibitions. Here are some of our favourites:
Matis X LHÍ Food Design and Food Venture Creation
Food design and food related projects were on display on the 1.st floor of the Department of Design of the Icelandic Academy of Arts. On the menu; tasty research, experiments, innovation and food system news.
Ragna Ragnarsdottir works around the intersection of design, art, craftsmanship and production. She explores a creative process that enables the design of objects more intuitively. Instead of designing objects from existing industrial or craft techniques, she searches for new processes where the design is a direct result of the production.
SOUVENIR / MINNING
A part of Atelier Dottir’s ongoing research on the effects of different media on our senses and sensory experiences. The exhibition is composed of two and three dimensional works that each represent a certain memory; the memory of a time, a place, a feeling. The three dimensional pieces are small scale ceramic sculptures and each of them carries a scent that is meant to evoke a certain emotion.
Having been without forests for a thousand years, wood has now become an available resource in Iceland. While increased amounts of forest utility can be expected in the coming years, innovation in the sector has not been growing in utilization of forest produce and therefore 80% of annual production is sold as wood chips to a silicone-metal factory.
Björn Steinar, The Iceland Forest Service and a handful of talented designers address the problem in a co-exhibition – based on mapping of the forest resource, where Björn Steinar produced prototypes from submitted proposals.
Places to visit
Harpa is one of Reykjavik‘s greatest and distinguished landmarks. It is a cultural and social centre in the heart of the city and features stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the North Atlantic Ocean.
The structure of this former Reykjavik herring factory has been brought back to life thanks to the efforts of architects Ásmundur Hrafn Sturluson and Steinþór Kári Kárason from studio Kurt og Pí. With this Marshall House has become a brand-new platform for emerging artists, hosting within its walls creative and non-profit activities (among which an Iceland-based practice of internationally renowned artist Olafur Elíasson) and a restaurant.
Matur of drykkur
This restaurant is specialized in classical Icelandic cuisine with a modern twist. They go to great lengths to find Icelandic cookbooks and other written material that may contain recipes they can use in new and inventive ways. Everything on their menu is homemade with first class produce. Let tradition surprise you!
Kaffi Vinyl is a bar/café and record shop located in the newly renovated Hverfisgata, parallel to main shopping street Laugavegur. The focus is food, vine and vinyl, offering light food and apperitivo, it’s also vegetarian and vegan friendly.
Born with the intention to import good coffee produced in full respect of both human beings and nature. They hand-pick coffee farms abroad and try to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Reykjavík Roasters is first and foremost an idea – a feeling that always stays with you like the lingering taste of a good cup of coffee.
The word “heima“, which means “home“ in Icelandic, perfectly sums up the concept of this new store that offers a great range of home decor and design goods from various brands.
Geysir Heima also hosts an in-store art gallery that regularly exhibits the work of local artists and designers.